Former Bear Hedge Fund Managers Settle For $1 Million

Feb 14 2012 | 12:44pm ET

The Securities and Exchange Commission has settled fraud allegations against two former Bear Stearns hedge fund managers for "chump change."

The deal, which a federal judge said yesterday he was "inclined to sign off on," ends the more than four-year drama of Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin, who ran two Bear hedge funds that collapsed in 2007, costing investors some $1.6 billion. A year later, the two men were indicted on criminal charges that they misled investors in the Bear Stearns High-Grade Structured Credit Fund and a more highly-levered sister fund, among the first casualties of the credit crisis. But Cioffi and Tannin were acquitted by a jury in 2009, although the SEC had pledged to continue its own civil case against the men, filed at the same time as their indictment.

That effort all but ended today, with Cioffi agreeing to pay $800,000 and Tannin $250,000. The two men also agreed to temporary banishments from the securities industry, with Cioffi agreeing to a three-year ban and Tannin two years. But neither will admit any wrongdoing.

Despite offering somewhat harsh words for the pact—"This case is being settled for, relatively speaking, chump change"—and a request for more filings by both sides next week, U.S. District Judge Frederic Block said he'd likely approve the accord. Block was scheduled to preside over the civil trial, which would have begun today.

An SEC spokesman disagreed with Block's characterization of the deal, saying that Cioffi and Tannin had been hit with "serious sanctions." Cioffi will pay $700,000 in disgorgement and a $100,00 fine, and Tannin $200,000 in disgorgement and a $50,000 fine.

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